The School is Fine

© Studio MNL via

We did it–we survived our first school year of kindergarten, and dare I say, we thrived?! I don’t mean that I thrived in the traditional sense of huge, obvious successes and cheers of “We love school!” every day. This thrive feels more to me like the pride that can only come from continuing when the going gets tough, to look back and realize how much growth has occurred by committing to show up.  My son doesn’t have the eyes to see it quite this way yet, but I’m proud of his endurance this year. Kindergarten is an adjustment, and that 6:50 bus pick-up is a grind, but we did it, and my son finished his year feeling proud of himself. I’m not going to lie, I feel proud of myself too.

As a former public school teacher and public school kid, I felt strongly about enrolling our son in our local public school. My husband had similar public school experiences, and we both felt comfortable moving forward with this decision. This choice looked different than the majority of our friends, who had chosen private schools across the city for their families. Several of our friends began their school journeys before us and raved about their schools for many understandable reasons. I listened to their stories of kids feeling known by teachers, outlets for exercising their creative muscles, extended outdoor time, and small class sizes, and I would be lying to you if I said I believed our public school could offer all of these things to our son.  I went into the year a bit apprehensive, unsure if our school would measure up (cue all my mom insecurities).

The year is over now. Can you guess what I learned this year? It’s perfectly okay for things to be just fine. My son had 25 kids in his class, a few left and a few new faces entered the scene mid year. He had a friend become officially adopted, adored his teacher, learned what putting up your middle finger means, and spent time playing educational games on a tablet because his teacher needed to work with students in small groups. His recess was 20 minutes, he went on two fun field trips, made a gazillion friends, and, most importantly, was happy when he talked about school. It’s never all good or all bad, anywhere, no matter what people tell you. Oftentimes, it’s just fine, and fine is enough.

I’m going, to be honest with you–this is not the exact educational experience I would curate for him if it were solely up to me, and there have been moments this year where I’ve had to work hard to keep my chill. But I think we are fooling ourselves if we think we can curate any experience in our children’s lives because they’re not ours to live. This kindergarten year has highlighted for me the joy of seeing my son learn to move through the world more independently and curiously, two traits I hope he continues to embody throughout his life. His school is not perfect, but it has served him well, and I’m grateful. And on the days that I don’t feel like it’s serving him in the exact ways I would choose, I take a deep breath, zoom out, and remind myself that someone else’s child likely had a more pressing need that day and every child deserves for their needs to be met.  If your family is getting ready to embark on a new school journey, remind yourself that a school is about so much more than the academics or resources or even the amount of outdoor time–it’s about the people and the community. I’m proud to be part of ours.


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